Nine Cannes films we should see in the UAE

From Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell to the teen horror It Lives, we take our pick of films from Cannes we would like to see screened in the Emirates.
Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars. Daniel McFadden / courtesy Cannes Film Festival
Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars. Daniel McFadden / courtesy Cannes Film Festival

As Cannes’ Croisette sweepers brush away the debris from another year’s cinematic hullabaloo, we look at which of the 2,000-plus films at the festival should make it to the UAE

Foxcatcher

“Academy Award nominee Channing Tatum.” If ever these words would be uttered, it’s from this quietly brilliant real-life sports crime drama about the relationship between wrestling brothers Mark (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), and multibillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell). But while the sibling bonds and strains are played with great emotional subtlety, it’s Carell, ditching the funny as the grey, awkward and sinister tycoon who is the real scene-stealer. An absolute must.

Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg takes his satirical bazooka to contemporary Hollywood with this twisted, jet-black drama about ambition, fame and breakdown. Havana Segrand (a superb Julianne Moore) is an ageing, messed-up actress desperate for another hit, while the 13-year-old Benjie (Evan Bird) typifies the Bieber-esque nightmare: an obnoxious child star already with a stint in rehab. Elsewhere, Mia Wasikowska arrives in Tinseltown clutching a dark secret and Robert Pattinson plays a chauffeur hoping for his big break. Paths collide in typically perverse – and enjoyable – Cronenberg fashion.

It Follows

There’s always a relatively lo-fi indie film that comes from nowhere to top many favourite lists and leave with a noisy buzz trailing behind it. This year, it was David Robert Mitchell’s creepy teen horror, which screened in the Critics’ Week section for first- and second-time filmmakers. It Follows – as it suggests – sees an evil force (that’ll be the “It”) on the hunt for American youth, with a kill list that is passed from one person to the next. Laden with eerie set pieces and an equally sinister synth-heavy score, this could be the horror movie of the year.

Whiplash

Boot camp meets music conservatory in Damien Chazelle’s lively, exhausting drama about a talented young drummer (Miles Teller) who is given a place in a top New York school. But things turn sour while under the musical tutelage of Terrence Fletcher (J K Simmons), a drill sergeant-like taskmaster who bullies and taunts his student in the pursuit of rhythmical greatness. Although he cites his jazz idols’ early humiliations as a path to their greatness, it soon appears as though his off-curriculum methods are simply those of someone hell-bent on psychological devastation.

Mr Turner

Timothy Spall picked up Cannes’ Best Actor award for his depiction of the grumpy, chubby 18th-century British landscape painter in Mike Leigh’s Dickensian biopic – and deservedly so. Despite a 150-minute running time, few complained, and Spall, as the grunting, phlegmy eccentric with a jutting bottom lip and impressive mutton chops, is superbly enjoyable. Speaking of his casting, the actor said: “What made us the perfect match, apart from anything, is he was a funny-looking, fat little man – and so am I.”

What We Do in the Shadows

Away from Cannes’ ever-so-serious competition entries and deep down in the depths of the festival’s market lurked this laugh-out-loud New Zealand mockumentary from Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement. A quartet of vampires from different historical eras (and all unprepped for the 21st century) share a house in Wellington, squabbling over chores, strutting around town in ludicrous leather trousers and generally failing to find themselves enough virgin flesh to gorge themselves on (one can’t quite bite a neck without showering the couch in blood). Werewolves and zombies show up later on, but by this time you’re already on the floor.

Winter Sleep

The winner of the Palme d’Or (and pretty much the favourite from the get-go), Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Chekhovian Turkish domestic drama might not have had been as enrapturing as his previous feature – the masterful Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – but is still marked as a classic. Atop a mountain sits a remote fairy-tale hotel presided over by its wealthy proprietor, a failed actor who has returned from Istanbul with a beautiful young wife. As the snow clouds gather overhead, the void of their relationship, and that of the locals in the area, grows ever wider

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Mommy

Even at just 25 years old, the Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan has already brought three films to Cannes, with this being the closest to earn him the top gong. Mommy follows the struggles of a trailer-trashy single mum in Quebec to cope with her hilariously out of control, ADHD son and the friendship forged with a shy, post-breakdown neighbour. Dolan brings out superb performances from his three leads, while clever changes in aspect ratio add a layer of intriguing metaphor into the ­aesthetic mix.

Maidan

Ticking more #topical boxes than most other films on the French Riviera, this well-crafted documentary from the Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa casts its journalistic eye over the recent uprisings in Kiev. With footage shot between December 2013 and February 2014 as the capital city’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) became the epicentre for the ensuing revolution, Maidan shows the transformation from initial carnival atmosphere to the running battles with the military police. Poignant and focused, Maidan is a daring look at history in action.

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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